The decision came after judges in Kalamata ruled that they did not have jurisdiction because the vessel sank in international waters.

The shipwreck, which occurred last June, claimed the lives of over 600 people when the overcrowded fishing boat, Adriana, sank en route to Europe from Libya. The nine men faced life sentences if convicted of people-smuggling and causing the disaster. Their charges were dismissed amid cheers from protesters outside the court.

Contradictory Evidence and Concerns About Fairness

The indictment was based on evidence that survivors had contradicted. Six survivors claimed that the Greek coastguard caused the boat to capsize and pressured them to blame the Egyptians. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have expressed doubts about the integrity of the investigation and whether the defendants would receive a fair trial.

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The Greek coastguard has denied any wrongdoing, stating they did not attempt a rescue because the vessel was traveling safely. These allegations are being examined by the Greek Naval Court.

The Sinking of the Adriana

The Adriana sank in international waters within Greece’s rescue area on June 14, last year. The boat, carrying up to 750 migrants, had departed from Tobruk, Libya. Only 82 bodies were recovered, but the UN estimates that an additional 500 people, including 100 women and children, perished.

Legal and Jurisdictional Issues

The court ruled that the men could not be tried for setting up a criminal organization and causing the shipwreck as it happened outside Greek waters. Consequently, the court declared them innocent of further charges of illegal entry into Greece and smuggling.

Allegations Against the Coastguard

The Greek coastguard monitored the boat for at least seven hours before it sank. Survivors alleged that the coastguard attempted to tow the boat, causing it to capsize. These allegations were not included in the court indictment, despite the UN calling for an independent investigation.

Missing Evidence and Confiscated Phones 

There is no video footage of the sinking. Survivors said their phones, which might have contained evidence, were confiscated by the coastguard and later found damaged. Attempts to retrieve data from the phones were deemed futile by the court.

Ongoing Investigations

The Naval Court's investigation into the coastguard's potential liability is still in its preliminary stages. Human rights groups believe this investigation should be completed before any trial of the Egyptian defendants.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into all aspects of the shipwreck to ensure justice and accountability. The Greek government has pledged to hold smugglers accountable and ensure justice is served.

Editor: Kemal Can Kayar